Belgium’s last halberdiers survive as wedding escorts in Brussels
Brussels, Nov 27 (EFE).- The Belgian halberdiers, medieval soldiers known for their two-meter polearm, keep their last vestige alive in Brussels, where they escort the bride and groom at the City Hall’s wedding rooms.
“We are here to receive and accompany the engaged, to guide and reassure them before and during the ceremony,” Eddy van de Mert, one of the soldiers tells Efe before a wedding.
“We guard the wedding hall and escort the newlyweds from A to C. The A, when they enter the City Hall, and the C, when they leave married,” he added.
Eddy continues to serve in the 10-troop squad, which includes two women, following in the footsteps of his father, who spent the last 15 years of his life guarding the wedding hall.
To join the squad, applicants must be Brussels residents, have retired and speak both French and Dutch.
“We can play this role as retirees to earn a little better living each month thanks to tips from couples. They have a good time and so do we,” Eddy says.
“For us it is a great pride to wear the halberdier uniform and the colors of our Brussels. For this, you have to be Brussels at heart. It is an honor,” he adds.
The halberd became popular in Europe with the rise of Swiss mercenaries in the 14th century and progressively spread to the rest of the armies of the continent until the end of the Middle Ages.
In the 18th century, however, it was relegated to a ceremonial weapon for the guard.
In the city of Brussels, where the last Belgian halberd guards reside, it guards the council of the capital’s Grand Place, even after the courtroom, one of the most protected of the City Hall, was transformed in 1911 into the bridal salon.